Blog #5: The Gift of Creative Non-fiction

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This week our creative non-fiction drafts were due and in peer reviewing them I got to see how creative our classmates are and the stories and experiences they draw from. For me, I wanted to be creative and I was thinking of what I should write about and media of course came to mind. It’s such a big part of my life and the person that I am and so I couldn’t think of anything better to write about. The concept wasn’t the hard part, it was the words and the description. How repetitive I wanted to be with a word and figuring out if I wanted to use years of my life or segment it by numbers. It was off to a good start, but it still needs work and that is why we have our second drafts to work on.

I’m not really sure where I am trying to go with this post, but this week has been just one of those weeks for me. Been kind of out of it, just going through the motions. Not feeling the best, feeling like I didn’t accomplish much and while I probably should have put a little more time into my first draft, I think what I did write was has great potential. Having this outlet to write something, that doesn’t have a specified length and can be about our perspective is a lot of fun and I have never really had the opportunity to delve into something like this until now. It helps me to find more confidence as a writer and do it in a creative, fun way that doesn’t need to follow any specific rules except for the ones that are part of CNF itself.

It helps me to learn more about where I can go with my writing. I hope from doing this I gain a better understanding of who I am as a person. The second draft could be some of my best writing and I’m excited to continue fleshing it out.

More teachers should include creative non-fiction for writing assignments because it would allow the students more freedom and creativity to express themselves through writing.

 

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Blog #4: Finding the Right Words

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This week I have been struggling a bit with writing, well writing a paper for my history class and maybe it’s because of all the reading involved with it, which is very tedious, but I am not really feeling it. It always seems like writing for me is repetitive. Like, I can’t find the right words, and I don’t have enough good words to use. Have you ever felt that way? Like your writing doesn’t sound intelligent? That no matter how many words you try to use to make it sound intelligent and thought out, it doesn’t. That is how I feel with my writing. Is it because I haven’t read enough books to really open my mind up to different words and more descriptive language than what I use? There are so many words that mean the same thing, but the reason that people use the less popular ones is because they sound better in the flow of the writing. When a teacher says “Don’t use contractions. Make it sound scholarly and intelligent.” I try, but it doesn’t seem to work for me. Maybe I need a thesarus to provide better words for me.

History papers require us to analyze and use many examples and while there is nothing wrong with that, because of my difficulty with using more and better words, they seem to always lack something. With all the ‘that’s, the’s, didn’t, doesn’t, wouldn’t…” I am too generalized. I have a hard time being specific with what I am saying. At least in my writing. Maybe in my speaking too lol, but it is a struggle for me because I know that I am improving in my writing and opening up a little more, but I can always do more and I hope that I am able to write this paper in a way that shows I know what I am talking about and can use specific details and references.

We tend to hold back sometimes in our writing because we are afraid of what people will think and that could also be a reason why my writing lacks detail. I have always felt more comfortable expressing myself through writing, but sometimes even with that, I don’t sound how I want to. So maybe I need to journal my thoughts more or take some time to just write. Write what comes to mind. Write what inspires me. Just sit and write. Maybe that will help me to finally find the words that I am looking for.

Blog #3: The Struggle for Understanding

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Do you ever feel like you don’t retain the information you learn? Like everything that you need to know or a lecture you just had leaves your brain and doesn’t return? Or that we read so much factual information that is the least bit entertaining and then have to regirgitate that information for an exam or a paper. I’m sure we all have felt that way at some point. I don’t understand how people do it. Is there a method to the madness? I mean I usually don’t read much of the textbooks we are required to have for our classes anyway and I still do a decent job, but then there are times where we have to or we won’t be able to write a paper and then it becomes stressful and overwhelming. History classes, while they are interesting, require loads of reading then writing a paper on what we read and since most of the books we have to read are full of facts and historical information, they can be for dull reading and hard to get through. I’m dealing that right now actually. We have several books to read for one of my history classes and if we don’t get through all the chapters we have to read we’ll get behind and then won’t do as well on the paper. It’s just so difficult to read all that information cause it’s interesting, but it’s so much at once and I have always had a hard time just sitting there and reading textbooks or things like that. At least the other books we have to read are more the size of a novel, so that isn’t as bad, but the others are lots of reading that is necessary, but not all of it needs to be used in the paper, so it makes it hard to know what to read and what not to. People say “Just look for specific things that the teacher is asking in the question,” but in order to do that, we have to read through everything. Hopefully I can do it and get started on the paper. At least we have a question we are focusing on as we read, so that helps.

The point I am trying to make with all of this though is that we are given so much information to read that it’s difficult to retain all of it and then they wonder why we do badly on papers or tests. I know college history classes are mainly discussion, lecture and reading on our own, but maybe if what we are required to read was written in a way that made it something we cared about, it would be easier to retain and understand. I always feel behind in reading and like I do badly on my history papers for that reason. When it is smaller readings that relate to things we care about, it makes it a bit easier. So, I don’t know how everyone else deals with it, but it’s college and we all have to get through it somehow.

Blog #2: How I Survived a Busy Week

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So, we all have busy weeks whether it’s because of our jobs our going to school or maybe even both and for me, it’s both. I am taking 12 units, but it still feels like it can be too much sometimes. Especially when I have a lot of reading to do. That’s one of the things that I always seem to get behind on with my classes and maybe it is because I haven’t learned how to properly read without gaining too much information and then not remembering because I read so much at once. History classes require a lot of reading and somehow I always have a hard time keeping up which then causes problems because I need to read said chapter or book for a paper that is due and then I can’t properly talk about the subject the way I should. Then there is my Physics class which is a hybrid and all the assignments are online, which also requires reading. Ugh! How do people balance it? How do they make sure they read what they need to and still produce and paper worthy of s good grade? I haven’t mastered that skill yet, but I hope that I will soon.

Then we have my job, now I enjoy it (I’m a math tutor at an elementary school), but I don’t have a whole lot of time afterward to get homework done and I feel like I’m crazy busy all the time. Especially this week I have just been burnt out and mentally drained, so I have been craving some relaxation because I need to figure out how to balance all of this and still accomplish what I need to. Maybe with the reading I can focus mainly on what us being asked to write about for the paper and look for those things throughout the reading so it doesn’t overwhelm me. Then just setting a schedule so I can make sure I have time to get everything done that I need to. I enjoy learning and reading and want to retain what I read, but it’s difficult when it is a large amount and it he extra information that I don’t necessarily need to know. That’s usually how it is with the history reading. So much information to five into and try and understand and then take that and write about it. Hopefully with these things in mind, I can start being more successful in my classes and continue surviving the weeks to come.

Blog #1: How Important is Education?

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This week and the week before were tough ones for me. Well, this week was 10 times better, but it was still a little difficult. See, my grandmother passed away earlier this month and her funeral was last week and I decided against going because I would have missed a whole week of school and there was going to be a burial here in California this week, so I went to that instead. Anyway, one of the main issues that people had a problem with in my deciding not to attend was that I put school before family and for me that was something that I felt was more important at the moment. Everyone always says “Go to college. Get a good job.” and then when we do, we hear “When are you going to be done?” It’s like they can’t be satisfied until we are out in the world on our own and struggling even though we went to school for God knows how many years. That doesn’t matter. What matters is how fast we get there. I felt like my education was something that I needed to focus on and maybe that was the wrong decision, but I, as a person don’t like to miss important information and even though I probably could have gotten my information from a classmate or went onto moodle and blackboard, it’s not the same as actually being in the classroom because if there are questions or something you aren’t sure about, you can ask. I have always been a person who tries to please people, I don’t like conflict and it has been hard for me to be more assertive and put myself first, so this was a big deal for me. I didn’t want to add extra stress on myself when I knew how my family would act and I might not have been able to even get my homework done while I was there and that would have defeated the whole purpose.

So, that brings me to the burial on Wednesday. It was a small, intimate service at the cemetary with a few family and friends there and I felt like that was more important than the funeral was because it was truly the final goodbye. I like to think that my grandma would have been proud of me for pursuing my education and getting to where I am and I hope that she did. My grandma didn’t have a formal education past high school and ended up acquiring her GED later in life and I think she was proud of all of her grandchildren. I guess the point that I am trying to make is that education is important and sometimes it’s more important than a family gathering for a death, but instead going to a smaller event that is more poignant and sentimental because it’s where she is finally being laid to rest. I got my assignments done and I went to my classes because education is important to me. My future is important and after all the times I’ve put others first, it was time to put myself first. In reflecting upon this week, I hope I made the right decision and I hope and pray that my grandma would have appreciated what I did. We all make decisions that people consider good or bad and I know many people are upset, but honestly, we can’t please everyone. I did what I needed to do for myself at the time and it paid off. I’m not stressed out for missing any classes and I can continue to put school as a priority. That, right there, should be good enough.